Students at Titus 2 and others of us this week have been considering ‘resilience’. Resilience is defined as “the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like. Synonyms include buoyancy, rebound, bounce, flexibility, elasticity, adaptability, and staying power. Resilience is one of those underlying attributes that enables perseverance in life. Resilience is built into our physical bodies in many miraculous ways. I have seen it recently in a friend who has struggled in recent years with end stage renal failure due to a congenital defect. After receiving a recent kidney transplant, I was amazed to see how her body is accepting this new kidney and rebounding from the effects of her long persevering struggle with dialysis. It is amazing to see the things from which our physical bodies can rebound. That capacity for physical resilience is a miraculous gift from God.
I have observed, too, and personally experienced how individuals can bounce back from other types of bending, compressing, or stretching- emotionally, mentally, financially, spiritually, and relationally. That, too, is a miraculous gift from God. Unfortunately, however, some throw in the towel before they experience the truth of God’s sovereignty, goodness, and redemptive love in times of difficulty.
Many years ago I saw a sign in a client’s office that said, “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.” It resonated with me. I have remembered it and quoted it often in times when it was needed, to myself or to others. As God would have it, this week one of the devotionals that crossed my desk was on just this topic! Amy Lively writes at womensministry.net:
Don’t Quit Before the Miracle
“….Ministry is hard. Even when you’re called and equipped, surrounded by a great team and guided by a solid vision – ministry is hard. Spiritual attacks are accompanied by personal setbacks, fears and excuses overwhelm, and family pressures mount.
The Apostle Paul knew that ministry is hard. In Acts 20:22-23, he told ministry leaders in Ephesus he would face “prison and hardships” as a result of his work. The Holy Spirit had been restraining and releasing Paul to travel to various regions, and the doors God opened for him were often prison cells. However, Paul also shares his secret for sticking to it in Acts 20:24:
I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me — the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
If Paul had quit his ministry, we’d have missed the miracle of grace preached to the Gentiles (not to mention most of the New Testament and the church as we know it). If I had quit my ministry, I would have missed the miracle of watching God’s message change women’s lives.
Here are three lessons from Paul’s hardships:
Heed the Spirit more. Let the Spirit direct your steps, then trust Him in the hard places.
Consider yourself less. When I focus on my thoughts, desires and emotions, I am quickly overwhelmed. Focus on the recipient of your ministry instead.
Let others help some. Let faithful friends help clarify the God-given task before you, then ask for their assistance, input and prayer.”
When the going gets tough, remember Paul’s words and remember God’s amazing grace, redeeming power, and steadfast love! Live into what God has called and equipped you to do and he will see you through it.